In past articles when discussing training, I’ve referenced and linked to a very popular 5×5 training program often referred to as the MadCow 5×5. Madcows 5X5 Hypertrophy Template Day 1: 5 sets of 5 for squats, bench press, and barbell rows (ramping up sets for those unaware. Actually the progression for madcows 5×5 is % compounded weekly starting week 5 and the progression for 5/3/1 is 10lb for squat/deadlift.

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It is time for us to macow reviewing more intermediate and advanced powerlifting programs. As always, I like to provide context for the programs that I discuss. Using the Madcow2 pseudonym, he unwittingly released one of the most popular internet lifting routines of all time. The program was incredibly simplistic and made use of ramping sets of 5.

Starr was mascow to accommodate the fact he often worked with 10, 20, or 30 athletes simultaneously. Basically, he was looking to provide a hardcore program for naturals who wanted to build strength and muscle without wasting their time on silly body part splits from muscle mags. It is somewhat ironic that the program is most popular amongst lifters primarily interested in strength gains. Nonetheless, it is a unique and interesting program worthy of analysis. Madcow wrote an extensive guide to his program that I personally believe is one of the best online resources for proper training knowledge out there.

You can check it out here. After a few weeks on the program, the top set is intended to be a PR set. Again, this is because the program caters to natural bodybuilders. Now, it should be obvious amdcow 2. You can see that program actually accounts for this. Take a look at what I mean below:.

The Complete Guide To Madcow 5×5 Workout Routine

As you can see, the program actually starts you on the first week at only The program is not even designed to allow full recovery at the end of each week like other intermediate programs.


On Madcows, the volume is layered fairly equally throughout the week and the entire program relies on accumulated fatigue to drive progress. As a powerlifter, Madcows should strictly be used in the off-season. This is a major drawback of the program in my opinion. Madcows makes no real use of periodization in terms of focusing on different physical qualities at different times. You do the exact same training mmadcow single week.

Every single session focuses on sets of 5. Monday is the day you display your progress. Wednesday is theoretically a lighter day because you only do a few light sets of squats and a lighter pressing variant such as the incline bench.

However, you also deadlift for a max set of 5 on Wednesday. Working up to a heavy set of 5 on the madcoow is not exactly my idea of a true light day. They fail to realize this set is included not only for madcoww hypertrophy gains, but also to drive the volume higher.

The original program calls for incline bench on Wednesdays although many people alter Wednesday to overhead press instead. Incline is more specific for PL and building 5xx5 upperchest is mandatory for bodybuilding success.

Overall, the main issue, in terms of specificity, is the predominance of the barbell row. Any program that madclw more rowing than deadlifting is not specific enough to powerlifting to be optimal.

You simply add 2. There is virtually no change in the amount of reps you do nor the amount of volume on a weekly basis. You just add weight once per week and the additional weight serves as the adaptive stimulus. The only variable manipulated is intensity.

For most intermediate trainees, this method of overload is completely adequate. Now, for true novices, variation in volume from session to session is inappropriate and the once weekly increases are going to result madclw needlessly slow progress.

Madcow’s 5×5 Review: The Most Popular Routine Ever

The vast majority of intermediate programs are supposed to be run indefinitely. The Texas Method assumes you fully recover inside of one week. However, on Madcows, fatigue macow managed through resets and run-ups. You only recover during those first few weeks of each reset. You need to do more work in most cases. In some instances, there are people who will actually make zero progress with this level of upperbody volume.


This is the single biggest weakness of madxow program. Your only mwdcow is to try the workout again the next week. Nevertheless, completely ignoring individual differences is a mistake for any trainee, but even more so as you become more advanced. But, in the long run, reducing overall volume will eventually result in stagnation.

Over time, volume must increase to continue to produce adaptation.

Remember, the body adapts to the stress you put it through. Eventually, going backwards in terms of the total stress is going to cause you to go backwards in performance as well. After that, it makes sense to move on to a more advanced intermediate program. First of all, the program was designed for natural bodybuilders. Secondly, the program represents a reduction in volume from most intermediate programs.

Finally, the program completely ignores individual differences which is inappropriate for intermediate trainees.

Bill Starr (MadCow) 5×5 Intermediate Routine – JCD Fitness

I am intimately familiar with the Texas Method and I am excited to discuss the intricacies 5z5 the program with the PowerliftingToWin community. The book contains over pages of content, discusses each scientific principle of programming in-depth, and provides six different full programs for novice and intermediate lifters. Get your maecow now! If you liked this articled, and you want instant updates whenever we put out new content, including exclusive subscriber articles and videos, sign up to our Newsletter!

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